The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3

Titus 3

Tit 3:1

Vv 1,2: Tit 2:1-10 gave exhortations to each class of believers in turn, with particular regard to their relationships with other believers. By contrast, Tit 3:1,2 gives exhortations equally applicable to all classes of believers, with regard to their relationship to the society around them. All that is written here is implicit confirmation of the low esteem in which Paul, as well as many others, held the ordinary Cretan character (Tit 1:12,13). The Cretans were notoriously turbulent and quarrelsome and impatient of all authority. They were always involved in insurrections and murders and civil wars. (Such a passionate love of independence is often a mark of the populations of rugged, isolated islands.) And the believers among them were not disposed to dissociate themselves from their neighbors.

Added to this, the many Jews who formed a large part of the Cretan ecclesias (as may be inferred from Tit 1:10,14; 3:9) were always restless under a foreign yoke, whether they lived in their own homeland or far afield.

The question of obedience to civil authorities by a people who were already the special possession of the God of all creation was, as might be expected, no light matter (Rom 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-15). The question put to Christ about the lawfulness of giving tribute to Caesar (Mat 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26) reflects the agitation of the times. The question was a trap: they supposed that in answering them Jesus would necessarily come into conflict either with the Roman authorities or with his countrymen. But Jesus avoided their snare and also laid down a principle of lasting significance. The "penny" produced was an acknowledgment of Caesar's rule. In a matter dear to the hearts of most men, namely money, they had already accepted Caesar's authority! They must meet both Caesar's claims, and God's claims.

As a result of this unwillingness to submit to Gentile rulership the Jews were bad subjects. And, since at first Christianity was closely identified in the public mind with Judaism, it was necessary that Christians strive doubly hard to show their obedience to those same authorities.

God has ordained the secular rulers of this world (Dan 4:17,25). It does not follow from this, of course, that all the actions of those rulers are well pleasing to God. Nevertheless, the command to obedience of them is equally applicable whether we perceive them to be good or bad. Even if rulers are "bad", still Christ's command is simple and all-embracing: "Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Mat 5:44).

The only mitigation to this commandment is when the secular authority demands something which is absolutely at variance with our Christian principles.

V 1: Subjection to authority: Is this commandment totally binding upon believers, no matter what request is made of them? The answer must be "No", since it has happened in the past (and may yet again!) that authorities have demanded that believers abstain from worshipping the true God. Apostolic precedent settles this question once and for all. Magistrates strictly commanded that Peter and the other apostles should not preach Christ. Then they answered and said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:28,29). This yields clear and certain guidance where magistrates command the taking of the "sword", which Christ forbids on pain of perishing with it (Mat 26:52).

OT history illustrates the same thing. Nebuchadnezzar commanded the worship of the golden image. Daniel's companions obeyed God rather than Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown into the fiery furnace as a consequence. Their deliverance (Dan 3:1-30), which, however, they did not presumptuously anticipate, is a guarantee to all succeeding times that "the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations" (2Pe 2:9).

V 1: REMIND: No amount of repetition of God's requirements is too much. We must have the things of God brought back to our remembrance: "My son, attend to my words... keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them" (Pro 4:20-22). Instead of continually seeking "some new thing", it would be far better to repeat and repeat the "old things" -- until words become thoughts, and thoughts become actions, and actions become habits -- fixed and reliable. A holy memory preserves the holiness of the whole man. As a man thinks in his heart, continually, persistently, so he finally becomes (Pro 23:7). "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them" (2Pe 1:12).

TO BE SUBJECT TO RULERS AND AUTHORITIES: The two words are characteristically combined by Paul (1Co 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10,15) to denote the secular authorities. "Archais" signifies the very heads or chiefs of government. "Exousiais" signifies their deputies, those who have received "authority" or "power" from them to exercise over the common people.

TO BE READY TO DO WHATEVER IS GOOD: Paul here picks up the thought of 2:14 -- "eager for" or "zealous of good works", making it his favorite theme to the end of the letter (Tit 3:8,14). Zeal and eagerness for every good work is the distinguishing mark of every true believer (Tit 2:7), the means by which they are differentiated from those who merely pretend to be religious, but are "unto every good work reprobate" (Tit 1:16).

The Cretans as a whole were lazy and self-centered (Tit 1:12) -- traits all too familiar, it is feared, to us also! The believer must be "ready", active in service. The characteristic modern disease is boredom, and boredom is the direct result of inactivity and selfishness. So long as a man lives by the principle, 'Why should I be bothered? Let someone else do it', he is bound to be bored. And he should be! He is not living; he is merely existing!

Tit 3:2

V 2: Meekness: All that follows in this verse is merely the logical extension of the command to obedience to Gentile rulers. The traits encouraged here are the means by which that obedience should be rendered -- not grudgingly, but cheerfully. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, whether the gift be money or service!

Paul is speaking to a people who are Christ's peculiar, or special, possession (Tit 2:14). Christ's commandments are not an end in themselves. Instead, our earnest efforts to live worthy of our high calling are intended to have an active purifying effect upon our characters, which are being prepared for the Master's use. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this principle. We may "obey the commandments" in seeking the praise of men, or thinking to build up an account in God's book of life. But in the end it will be our characters -- what we have made of them by exercise and habit -- that will, by God's grace, determine our eternal destinies.

It is significant, then, that we finally perceive the commandments of Christ to relate not only to actions, but especially to motives. This is surely the meaning of his repeated "ye have heard... but I say unto you" in Mat 5.

TO SLANDER NO ONE: "Blasphemein" which appeared also in Tit 2:5, signifies "to speak evil of", "to revile". In this sense we may "blaspheme" men as well as God. The idea here is very close to the slander against which Paul exhorted in Tit 2:3. It is not sufficient to give a stubborn, grumbling lip-service to those in authority; we must obey as cheerfully as possible, without complaint or evil-speaking. Our example is Christ, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (1Pe 2:23).

TO BE PEACEABLE: "Amachos" -- "to avoid quarreling" (RSV), "not to be contentious" (RV) -- occurs twice only in all the New Testament. The other instance is 1Ti 3:3, where it is listed as one of those things "bishops" should avoid. It indicates an individual who is prone to bickering, arguments, and feuds; who is pushy, headstrong, disrespectful, and presumptuous.

CONSIDERATE: Gr "epieikes", five times in the NT: Phi 4:5; 1Ti 3:3; Tit 3:2; Jam 3:17; 1Pe 2:18. Not the more usual word for "gentle" (prautes). "Epieikes" is the word that Matthew Arnold translated "sweet reasonableness." EK Simpson says: "Epieikes defies exact translation... Gracious, kindly, forbearing, considerate, magnanimous, genial, all approximate to its idea" (EBC).

It describes a man who is not officious and mean-spirited, but kind and understanding of other's shortcomings. "Love suffereth long" (1Co 13:4). Of this quality also we have the sterling example of Christ, who patiently taught his disciples time after time, who helped them when they stumbled. No doubt, at times he felt like abandoning the effort, at giving vent to harsh reprimand to soothe his own pride, but he always refrained. Can we do any less?

HUMILITY: Gr "prautes". See Lesson, Gentleness.

Tit 3:3

Vv 3-7: Love, Mercy, and Justification: In Tit 2:1-10 Paul is giving rules of life for each class of believers, in turn, as to how they should conduct themselves in the ecclesia. Paul follows this with the reason for such commands: The grace of God has called men out of the world; they are henceforth required to live as a purified and peculiar and set-apart people. Now, in Tit 3:1,2 Paul is giving rules of life to all classes of believers together, as to how they should conduct themselves in society. Paul follows this with a corresponding reason: In this "epitome" (similar in some ways to Tit 2:11-15, yet different also) he lays great stress on the Banner of life which believers have left behind (Tit 3:3). And he tells believers that they have been made "heirs" (Tit 3:7) of the world and eternal life. They are not just "set apart" from the world by their high calling in Christ; they are also destined to be "rulers" of that world. And their fitness for that future role must be determined by how well they obey the present rulers of this world, who are also ordained by God!

A further distinction between the two "epitomes" may be noted. In the first (Tit 2:11-15) great stress is put upon the necessity of good works. But in the second (Tit 3:3-7) the greater stress is put upon the necessity of a humble attitude, in remembrance of the believer's past state of sin. He must remember that he had been a sinner, as bad in every way as the worldly sinners around him -- an attitude which would encourage loving kindness toward others, and discourage pride in his own "accomplishments".

As Jesus is the personification of God's grace in Tit 2:11, so he is the personification of God's kindness and love in Tit 3:4.

AT ONE TIME WE TOO: Possibly by the "we too" Paul refers esp to the Cretans, whose national reputation was rather shoddy (Tit 1:12,13). But in humility Paul may genuinely be including himself also; his other writings afford precedent for this: "(I) was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious" (1Ti 1:13).

Nor need this description communicated to Titus be limited to Paul and the Cretans. Paul gives several parallel descriptions of the "world" and its characteristics (Rom 1:21-31; 1Co 6:9-11; Eph 4:17-24; 2Ti 3:1-5) which give us the rather uncomfortable feeling that he may just be referring to you and me -- to what, without God, we once were in this world!

Why do we need reminding of what we once were, when we are supposed to have left all that behind? It is because a consideration of our previous state, in common with the world, is grounds for sympathy toward those who are not as yet called to the Truth. It is also because such a consideration subdues in us unseemly pride in any professed "superiority". "There, but for the grace of God, go we!"

"Perhaps the kindest thing God can do for us is to open our eyes to the folly of our foolishnesses and fantasies. We should earnestly desire this. We should earnestly pray for it. The natural human mind is a hopeless tangled web of confused and contradictory fancies and desires. Peace and joy in any true consistent sense are not possible because the mind is not coordinated to a single, thought-out purpose and life-goal. Some achieve a little closer approach to this than others (though on a natural, animal, transient level), and therefore approach closer to a form of natural, animal 'peace.' And while the fantasy lasts that the perceived goal is worthwhile, the 'peace' and 'joy' persist. But at best there is a worm at the core of all natural pursuits which -- if disillusionment does not reveal sooner or later -- then death will at last make it unmistakably manifest. There is only one life-goal, only one life-coordinating-and-harmonizing force, that can carry us triumphantly through the great bubble-bursting, fantasy-exploding, reality-enforcing inevitable actuality of death" (GVG).

FOOLISH: "Anoetos": one who does not ponder or reflect. The Galatians were so called, because they had been "bewitched" or beguiled so easily by false teachers (Gal 3:1,3).

DISOBEDIENT: "Apeitheis": a stronger word than "foolish"; one who refuses to be persuaded. Paul has used this word already to Titus, to describe the vain talkers and deceivers (Tit 1:16). He uses it twice elsewhere as part of the phrase "disobedient to parents" (Rom 1:30; 2Ti 3:2).

DECEIVED: "Planao": those who are caused to wander or stray. It is used to refer to the one lost sheep (Mat 18:12,13; 1Pe 2:25); to those who "erred", not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God (Mat 22:29; Mark 12:27), and those deceived by the "Jezebel" and "Satan" of the Apocalypse (Rev 2:20; 12:9; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3,8,10).

ENSLAVED BY ALL KINDS OF PASSIONS: The word is related to "doulon": slave. There were in the Cretan ecclesias a number of literal slaves (Tit 2:9,10). But far worse than being bound in literal slavery was being bound in moral slavery to "King Sin" (Rom 6: 16,17)!

PASSIONS: "Epithumia", which means no more than "desires" (Tit 2:12), and is sometimes used in a positive way (Mat 13:17; Luke 22:15; 1Ti 3:1). The word for "all kinds", or various, provides a hint as to the reasons for a negative implication here: at the heart of the matter, there is only one positive, godly desire -- to further the glory of God. But there are many, many negative, wicked desires. There is one road only which leads to life, but there are an infinite number of roads that lead to the grave. It matters not, in the last analysis, which of those many roads we choose -- nor whether we come at last to destruction by illicit pleasures, or by otherwise "lawful" pursuits. Whatever it is that we have chosen instead of God, whether it be gross sin or "commendable" ambition in the eyes of the world -- if it is a different "kind of passion" than the desire for service to God -- the end will, sadly, be the same.

PLEASURES: "Hedonais" -- from which we derive the English "hedonistic". The "pleasures of this life" are some of those "weeds" which "choke" the good seed (Luke 8:14). One of the signs of the last days is that men will be "lovers of pleasure" ("philedonos" -- from same root word) more than lovers of God (2Ti 3:4).

MALICE: "Kakia": simply, that which is bad. It is such an inevitable and pervasive quality of this present world that our Lord could say, ironically, that each day has a "sufficient" quantity (Mat 6:34)!

ENVY: "Phthonos": The word is always used in a bad sense -- jealousy of another's success, depreciation of his worth, envy of his excellence. It was because of envy that Christ's enemies delivered him up to death (Mat 27:18; Mark 15:10). Envy is an almost ineradicable characteristic of the flesh (James 4:5); it is probably the root cause of more sins than any other attribute.

BEING HATED: "Hateful" (AV): "stugeetos": Abominable; odious; the strongest imaginable word, used only this once in the Bible. It is suggested the word derives from the Styx, the mythological river of the underworld by which the gods of Greece swore. Without endorsing any of the superstition inherent in the expression, Paul probably uses it to indicate the lowest depth of perverted human nature.

AND HATING ONE ANOTHER: "Miseo": to hate, usually implying active ill-will in words and conduct, or even a persecuting spirit.

Tit 3:4

KINDNESS: "Chrestotees": an active benevolence. "Goodness" (RSV, Diag). The word is found ten times in the NT -- all in Paul's letters. It is an attribute of God (Rom 2:4; 11:22), shown toward man through Christ (Eph 2:7), but only conditionally upon man's obedience (Rom 11:22). It is one of the "fruits" of the spirit (Gal 5:22).

LOVE: "Philanthropia" literally means "love (or affection) toward man" (RV). "Loving kindness" (RSV), "benevolence" (NEB). The word appears only one other time, strangely enough of the "barbarous people" of Melita (Acts 28:2). A related word is used only once, and then of Paul's centurion guard (Acts 27:3). It was evidently not a trait for which the Jews were well-known!

By applying this word to God, Paul is showing Him to be a God of tender concern for His creation. He is not a God who is far off, but a God who is near. He is not only a God who manifests Himself in fire and darkness and tempest and thunder (Heb 12:18-21). But He is also a God who manifests Himself in a still small voice (1Ki 19:12) and the tears of His Son (John 11:35; Mat 23: 37-39). He is a God who can plead with His people: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of My hands" (Isa 49:15, 16).

GOD OUR SAVIOR: Cp Tit 1:3; 2:10,13. This phrase is counterbalanced by "Jesus Christ our Saviour" in Tit 3:6, just as "the grace of God that bringeth salvation" (Tit 2:10) is matched by "our Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit 2:13). In each "epitome", both the Father and the Son are accorded the position of "Savior"!

APPEARED: "Epiphaino", as in Tit 2:11.

Tit 3:5

HE SAVED US: The verb is in the aorist tense which in Greek commonly indicates one particular occasion -- that being, in this context, baptism. Salvation (in the fullest sense of eternal life) is not a present possession, but a hope (Tit 1:2; 2:13). But in a certain sense we are "saved" now, having been saved out of the world. Salvation is described Scripturally in three distinct stages: (1) We have been saved: here; 2Ti 1:9; 1Co 15:1,2; Eph 2:5. (2) We are being saved:         Acts 2:47, RSV ("those who were being saved"); 1Co 1:18, RSV ("being saved"); 2Co 2:15, RSV ("being saved"). (3) We will be saved: Mat 10:22; Rom 5:9; 1Co 3:15; 5:5; 1Ti 4:16.

NOT BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUS THINGS WE HAD DONE, BUT BECAUSE OF HIS MERCY: We are saved by God's grace (Eph 2:8,9), not by our own works (Rom 9:11; 11:6; 2Ti 1:9).

THROUGH THE WASHING OF REBIRTH: The word "loutron" (washing) occurs but twice; the other instance is a close parallel: "Christ... loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph 5:25,26).

The word "palingenesia" (regeneration, rebirth) occurs elsewhere only once also: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mat 19:28). In Christ's statement it refers to the rebirth of the world itself in the kingdom age, while Paul's use refers to the rebirth of a believer in baptism. The two ideas are, of course, intimately related. At baptism the believer becomes a part of Christ's new "creation" (Eph 2:10; 4:23, 24; Col 3:10). And when Christ returns he will be an integral part of, and a participation in, the new creation of the whole world (2Pe 3:13)!

The "washing" by which we are reborn is baptism, but Scriptural baptism, or "burial" in water (Rom 6:4), can only be performed upon one who has morally "died" to sin (vv 2,7). Only such a person as this can be "born again" (John 3:5) of the water!

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians calls up the imagery of this whole section. First, as with Tit 3:3, a recounting of what believers once had been: "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers... nor thieves, nor covetous... shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you" (1Co 6:9-11).

And then, as with Tit 3:5, a reminder of what they had been made: "But ye are washed... sanctified... justified in the name of the Lord Jesus" (1Co 6:11).

AND RENEWAL BY THE HOLY SPIRIT: "Anakainosis" occurs only one other time: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom 12:2). This verse indicates that Scriptural "renewal" is a mental process, as does Col 3:10, where a related word is used: "And (ye) have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."

In direct conflict with "Evangelical" notions of the activity of the "Holy Ghost", Paul is saying that, whatever form it takes, the Holy Spirit can only bring about "renewal" in believers by operating upon their intelligent, enlightened minds! As the NIV translation indicates (following some mss), the renewal comes by the Holy Spirit; in other words, the Holy Spirit is not itself being renewed, as though the supply has somehow "run low"! But rather, the Holy Spirit is the agency by which the believer himself is renewed.

Simply put, then, Paul is saying that we are saved by God's mercy and not by our own works. However, something is required of us. We must, first, believe the Truth (Tit 1:1) and be baptized -- the washing of rebirth. And we must afterward be mentally and morally renewed by that same word of Truth, given to us (as to those first-century believers) by the Holy Spirit. For us, today, the Holy Spirit-inspired Word is the only means of "renewal": "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15:3). "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

"We are renewed by the Holy Spirit through knowledge. The Holy Spirit renews or regenerates man intellectually and morally by the truth believed, 'Sanctify them through thy truth,' says Jesus, 'thy word, O Father, is truth" (Joh 17:17). 'Ye are clean,' said he to his apostles, 'through the word which I have spoken to you' (Joh 15:3). God's power is manifest through means. His Spirit is His power by which He effects intellectual, moral and physical results. When He wills to produce intellectual and moral effects, it is by knowledge revealed by His Spirit through the prophets and apostles. This knowledge becomes power when received into 'good and honest hearts'; and because God is the author of it, it is styled 'the knowledge of God' (2Pe 1:2) or 'the word of truth' (Jam 1:18) by which He begets sinners to Himself as His sons and daughters" (JT, Clerical Theology Unscriptural 17).

Tit 3:6

WHOM HE POURED OUT ON US GENEROUSLY: "Which He shed on us abundantly" (AV). This outpouring of the Holy Spirit probably refers to the occasion of Pentecost, where the same word "ekcheo" (shed) is used. Again, the aorist tense points to one previous outpouring, which formed the basis for all which followed. In this context the "us" of v 6 is extremely important, in view of the contrasting "the people" of v 1 and "those" of v 8. There are evidently two classes, both in the ecclesia, implied here. The "us", including at least Paul and the other apostles, and perhaps Titus and other Spirit-gifted believers, had received the Holy Spirit either at Pentecost, or as a second-hand result of that historic "pouring out", by the laying on of the apostles' hands. "The people" comprised all other believers, who were certainly not a "second-class" group simply because they did not possess Spirit gifts. In fact they, as much as the others, might be "renewed" by the same Holy Spirit if they would give their minds and hearts to the Spirit-communicated and Spirit-attested word of Truth. That word itself, believed and acted upon, was the renewing influence, not a miraculous "indwelling of the Spirit".

GENEROUSLY: "Plentifully" (NEB); "richly" (RV, RSV). It is the "word of Christ" which so dwells in believers in Col 3:16!

Tit 3:7

HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE: The verb is "dikaioo", which is connected with two other words that are translated as just, or righteous, and righteousness. "Justify" does not mean "make righteous"; more precisely, it means "declare righteous" or "vindicate". The righteousness of Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit (which is the sense of the phrase "justified in the Spirit" of 1Ti 3:16) by his resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4; 4:25) -- which was also the guarantee to those "in Christ" that they might, on the same pattern, be declared or accounted "righteous" through him. We are "accused persons" -- in fact we are all guilty (Rom 3:9,19,20,23) -- but we are "reckoned" to be sinless in God's sight through the righteousness and sacrifice of Christ (Rom 3:21,22,24,26).

WE MIGHT BECOME HEIRS: This word ("kleronomous") is related to the common words for "inheritance" and "lot" ("kleeros"). The idea is an inheritance allocated and divided by "lot", upon the OT pattern of Joshua's division of Canaan (Jos 11:23; 18:8-10; Acts 13:19). The saints are not just "heirs" of eternal life; they are, like Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17), "heirs" of a particular parcel of Land: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Mat 5:5). "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom 4:13).

But "inheritance" is an idea of more facets than this. In the richness of the equivalent Hebrew words, God Himself is the "inheritance" or the "portion" of His people (Psa 16:5,6; 73:26; Lam 3:24); and, in a lovely reciprocation, they are His "portion" (Deu 4:20; 9:29; 32:9). Like the Bridegroom and the Bride, each belongs to the other!


Tit 3:8

See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.

I WANT YOU TO STRESS THESE THINGS: The reason? Because the "enemies", the false teachers, were constantly affirming that which was wrong (1Ti 1:7).

SO THAT THOSE WHO HAVE TRUSTED IN GOD MAY BE CAREFUL TO DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO DOING WHAT IS GOOD: The word "proisteemi" (doing) literally means "to stand in front of". It is a word used for a shopkeeper standing in front of his shop to display and advertise his goods. It is also used of a commander who leads his men into battle, and figuratively of any leader. This is the sense in which it is most often used (Rom 12:8; 1Th 5:12; 1 Tim 3:4,5,12; 5:17).

Either this phrase is a command to practice good deeds, or (as the RSV margin suggests) it is a command to "enter honorable occupations". The first possibility is the simplest, and the most in keeping with the whole drift of Paul's letter.

DOING WHAT IS GOOD: Love what is good (Tit 1:8); teach what is good (Tit 2:3); and do what is good (Tit 2:7,14; 3:8,14).

THESE THINGS ARE EXCELLENT AND PROFITABLE FOR EVERYONE: They are both good in themselves and profitable in regard to others. Most certainly is this true in contrast to the contrary works of v 9!

Tit 3:9

AVOID: The word "peristemi" literally means to turn around so as to face the other way. The same word is translated "shun" in 2Ti 2:16.

Those things which Titus was to avoid encompassed a wrong use of the Law of Moses, that to which "they of the circumcision" (Tit 1:10) would be inclined. The law was a "shadow of heavenly things" (Heb 8:5) and, as such, was (and is) intensely interesting to Bible students. There are many particulars in the apostolic writings as to the antitypical meanings of the features of the Law. The working out of these clues can be profitable, provided analogies are not carried coo far. It must not be forgotten that the Law, though "a shadow of good things to come", is "not the very image thereof" (Heb 10:1).

CONTROVERSIES: Or "questions" (AV), or "speculations" (NEB). The various Scriptures in which this word is used may serve to illustrate the types of questions intended. Each occurrence of the word is connected with the Jews: questions of law (Acts 25:20); questions about genealogies (1Ti 1:4); questions "of purifying" (John 3:25); questions of words (1Ti 6:4), and "foolish and unlearned questions" (2Ti 2:23, and here). But such questions are not confined to Jews, as we may see among ourselves: endless and laborious debate, controversy, contentions, abstractions, agitations, and frictions -- all too often over nonessentials!

GENEALOGIES: This word appears only twice, the other instance being 1Ti 1:4. The questions of genealogies arose in the Jewish insistence on proper ancestry of priests (Neh 7:63-65; Ezra 2:62). Indeed, care in this regard was commanded, but only to illustrate the point that Christ as a priest was far superior to the Aaronic priests, who were forced to prove their ancestry before they could even serve. The study of such matters as genealogies should not be carried to an extreme, for very little more than this can be gained. But the study of genealogies came to be a great concern for some men, rather than "godly edifying". These men put stress upon fleshly relationship, rather than spiritual relationship. To this Christ said: "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand Coward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mat 12:48-50).

ARGUMENTS: "Dissensions" (RSV). That which was one of "the works of the flesh" ("variance" in Gal 5:20), and one of the characteristics of a lost world (Rom 1:29), was tragically present in the ecclesias also (1Co 1:11; 3:3; 2Co 12:20; Phi 1:15).

QUARRELS ABOUT THE LAW: "Mache", which signifies "fightings" (2Co 7:5). These "legal battles", like the "word-wars" of 1Ti 6:4, were evident in the brotherhood (2Ti 2:23; Jam 4:1).

THESE ARE UNPROFITABLE AND USELESS: The very opposite of the care for good works in the preceding verse. "Useless" has been variously translated "futile" (RSV), "pointless" (NEB), and "worthless" (NASB).

Many questions may arise among believers, which are very difficult if not impossible to answer. They often lead the simple believer into an inescapable labyrinth! And most of the questions give no practical benefit even if they are answered correctly. It is easy to list such Bible questions as these, which are profitless to discuss at any great length: what has happened to Enoch and Elijah, the exact meaning of remote types of the law, the quality of the wine and bread at the memorial supper, the relation of God's foreknowledge to man's free agency, the exact time that Christ became a high priest, minor details of procedure at our meetings, and so forth. Any experienced brother or sister can compile his or her own list.

We come together as a group to study God's word and to grow thereby, into the perfect man in Christ Jesus. Doubtful questions do not contribute to this end. Neither does the forcing of our private views upon others under the guise of commandments. Neither does the putting forward of minor points as being of great doctrinal importance. All of these things fall under the category of casting stumblingblocks before our brethren.

Therefore, when we meet together in formal classes (or at any time), we must study the Bible in a broad and balanced way, to gain practical lessons, to strengthen ourselves and exhort others in the most holy words of Truth. Paul tells us what is the true benefit of Bible study: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti 3:16,17).

"Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Tit 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings" (CHS).

Tit 3:10

A DIVISIVE PERSON: The KJV translators have made a rather unfortunate choice of words here. "Heretick" is a quite interesting and complex word, but subject to misinterpretation. Transliterated from the Greek, it is "hairesis", or "heresy". The word denotes a "choice", or that which is chosen; hence, an opinion. Secondarily, it means a "sect" or division; a party formed, either as a subgroup of a main body, or in extreme cases entirely independent. It is not even implied that the distinctive character of the "sect" is a doctrine at all. The Sadducees and the Pharisees were called "sects" or "heresies" (Acts 5:17; 26:5), as were the "Christians" before their break from Judaism was complete (Acts 24:5,14; 28:22). The Greek word has no inherent suggestion of an error, only of party spirit tending toward division. It was only in post-apostolic times that "heresy" acquired the invariable meaning of doctrinal divergence; the term was so applied to all deviations from the Roman Catholic apostasy during the fourth century and beyond.

A "heretick", therefore, would signify a "factious" (RSV) or "divisive person" (NIV), a separatist, a causer of schism or division, for whatever reason. Paul says that a heretic is "self-condemned" (v 11), apparently because of the position of separation in which he has placed himself. Thus the ecclesia's rejection of him is more or less an official acknowledgement of the "status quo".

The main accompanying idea in the other passages where "hairesis" occurs is of some sort of division: (1) In 1Co 11:18,19 it is used synonymously with "schisms", which, however, had not yet resulted in full-scale ecclesial division, but only in factions. (2) It is listed with strife, seditions, and envyings as one of "the works of the flesh" (Gal 5:19-21); the list, however, includes no false doctrines. (3) In 2Pe 2:1,2 "heresy" is the division which certain men cause unjustly, not the false doctrines they teach!

All this agrees well with the context of Paul's letter to Titus. Therein he more than once characterizes the Cretans in general as liars, lazy gluttons, and envious (Tit 1:12; 3:3), men naturally given to controversies, dissensions, and quarrels (Tit 3:9) -- in short, men who are always combative, never satisfied, potential sectarians, troublemakers, or "heretics". It is an extraordinary irony that those brethren who feel they are most scrupulous at resisting "heretics" (ie teachers of false doctrines?) through their policy of absolute separation are themselves guilty of being "heretics" (schismatics) in the Biblical sense.

HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM: The word "paraiteomia" means "to leave out of account". It is translated "avoid" in 2Ti 2:23 and "refuse" in 1Ti 4:7; 5:11. There is a progression of thought and seriousness in these two last verses: Foolish and hurtful questions are to be avoided, or turned away from (v 9). Those who persist in such matters, thus threatening or effecting disunity, are to be "warned" or "admonished" (v 10) -- a rather mild word. But if, after a first and a second such admonition (on the pattern of Mat 18:15-17), they remain unchanged, they then should be "left out of account" -- a strong term which certainly includes the idea of disfellowship.

The disfellowship, if such be finally considered necessary, must be done in the spirit of meekness, and at every step the brethren so acting must endeavor in love to reclaim the offender. The only reasonable approach is to handle such matters locally, and not allow them to unsettle ecclesias elsewhere.

"There is need for a faithful rather than a harsh observance of this apostolic counsel today. The most serious consideration should be given to the question of whether a brother's nonconformity is of such a nature as to justify the grave decision of exclusion. Each elder should ask himself the question, in all cases, not 'Do we traditionally disfellowship for this divergence?' but 'Can I, as a responsible elder and shepherd, give full satisfaction to my Lord at his judgment seat, that I do well to exclude this brother?' " (FCE 55). Furthermore, it must be noted that those brethren or ecclesias who fail to excommunicate "heretics" are not to be equated with the "heretics" themselves. (Such a notion is based solely, but erroneously, on 2Jo 1:10,11.) They may be disobedient to the apostolic injunction, but this shortcoming does not of itself constitute them guilty of the same or as serious offence as their erring brother. These words of Paul do not sanction the judging and disfellowshiping of large numbers at a distance -- for how then could the "warnings" or "admonitions" be properly administered? In fact, no Bible passage sanctions division from a nominally sound ecclesia because of its supposed failure fully to discipline an offender.

Tit 3:11

YOU MAY BE SURE THAT SUCH A MAN IS WARPED: Literally, "ekstrepho" means "turned inside out", a vivid description of those who cannot separate important matters from unimportant. It is the opposite state of mind from the "sober-mindedness" which Paul so often stresses in this letter. "Perverted" (RV, RSV, Diag) and "distorted" (NEB) also catch the spirit of this word.

HE IS SELF-CONDEMNED: Paul and Barnabas made the same charge against the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia: "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn To the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46). In this case, the Jews condemned themselves by refusing Paul's teaching.

Self-condemnation may take another form, that described by John of an apparently substantial and influential group of members: "They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1Jo 2:19). This bears strong resemblance to the case in Crete. By their own actions, this group was showing that they were not really part of the ecclesia. By removing themselves from the body of Christ, they were demonstrating that they were not in fact a part of that body. This sad state is too often the result of confused and deluded notions as to what is essential to the Truth, and what are no more than foolish questions and confusing legalities. If we cannot tell the difference, then we are in grave danger of making the same mistakes.

Tit 3:12

Vv 12-15: Final words: It is now the time for salutations, farewells, and private, temporal instructions. But, even in his final words, Paul repeats once more the necessity of maintaining good works (v 14), so crucial is this idea to his whole message.

V 12: ARTEMAS: This brother is mentioned only here. It is suggested that his full name was Artemidorus, the "gift of Artemis", and that this connects him with Ephesus, the center of the worship of Artemis or Diana (Acts 19:23-41).

TYCHICUS: "Fortunate". He was a faithful messenger of Paul, later chosen to work at Ephesus (2Ti 4:12). He had been entrusted before, with an important commission to Ephesus (Eph 6:21,22), as well as with one to Colosse (Col 4:7,8).

Evidently Artemas or Tychichus was to replace Titus at Crete for a time, freeing Titus to go to Paul.

DO YOUR BEST TO COME TO ME AT NICOPOLIS, BECAUSE I HAVE DETERMINED TO WINTER THERE Titus was instructed to be ready to leave Crete to rejoin Paul at Nicopolis as soon as the two workers arrived. It is not absolutely certain which city called Nicopolis is meant (there were several), but it is generally supposed to be the city in Epirus, a province of northwest Greece. This Nicopolis was a little south of Dalmatia, where we read of Titus working at a later date (2Ti 4:10).

Tit 3:13

ZENAS THE LAWYER: The word "nomikos" (which also appears in v 9: "the law") can refer to a Greek legal expert, and "Zenas" is a Greek name ("the gift of Zeus"). However, Zenas could have been an expert in the Law of Moses, since "nomikos" in the NT otherwise carries that meaning (Mat 22:35; Luke 7:30; 10:25; 11:45,46,52; 14:3). Paul may have hoped to confer with this rabbinical authority, so as to better prepare him for countering the arguments of the Cretan "circumcision party" (Tit 1:10).

APOLLOS: A contraction of "Apollonius". He was a Jew, a native of Alexandria -- which was a center of scholarship and intellectual pursuits. There he was brought up, a distinctive man, "mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24). Despite his attainments he became a humble and willing student when, at Ephesus, he met Aquila and Priscilla, who taught him "the way of God more perfectly" (v 26). Going beyond the first stages of enlightenment which he had known as a disciple of John the Baptist, he learned the Truth in its fulness and became a mighty exponent of it (v 28).

So powerful was his influence on those whom he taught that it might well have produced schism in the ecclesias (1Co 1:12). Apollos could easily have made a name for himself as a partisan leader, but he sought the welfare of the whole community and always worked arm-in-arm with the Apostle Paul. There is never, in any of the references to him, any hint of disagreement with the Apostle.

DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO HELP... ON THEIR WAY...: Practical hospitality and care for those who traveled in the work of the Truth was one of the brightest qualities of believers in the first century (3Jo 1:8); so it should be today also.

Tit 3:14

DOING WHAT IS GOOD: Love what is good (Tit 1:8); teach what is good (Tit 2:3); and do what is good (Tit 2:7,14; 3:8,14).

The final plea for good works, the central theme of this letter (Tit 2:7,14; 3:1,8).

AND NOT LIVE UNPRODUCTIVE LIVES: The ecclesia is God's orchard or vineyard; the faithful are "trees" of the Lord, the planting of righteousness. It is the "business" of "trees" To bring forth "fruit" (Mat 3:8; 7:17; cp John 15:1). If these fruits of Gal 5:22,23 abound in us, then we will be neither "barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:8).

Tit 3:15

EVERYONE... YOU ALL: Twice the "all" is stressed. This was extremely important to Paul. He was not concerned with little subgroups in the ecclesias. He was not concerned only with those who agreed with him in every little particular. He was not concerned with anything that would unnecessarily fragment the one "body" of Christ. He was concerned with all! For him there was no "old versus young" in the Truth, no "conservative versus liberal". For him, the believers were "all one in Christ", neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female. In Christ they all had new identities; they were all parts of a greater whole: "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you" (1Co 12:21).

GRACE: Paul concludes as he has begun, with the prayer for grace from God (Tit 1:4). This is the grace that God offered to Paul, to Titus, and to all the brethren in Crete, and lastly to us. This is the grace, which leads a man to serve God in simplicity and truth.

We must keep bringing ourselves back to this the simple, personal work of each individual, day after day. The Truth is a very simple, individual, personal thing; passed on in joyful zeal from person to person, radiated in personal example, personal dedication, personal holiness.

Look at the example of Christ. Look at the example of Paul. This was the living power that swept the Roman Empire in the early centuries. All the might of Caesar's legions could not stand against an humble little band of believers who marched under the banner of their Lord. And this is the work which by God's grace we must carry forward -- each individual one of us in this our brief "day of salvation".

According to the subscription: "It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretans, from Nicopolis of Macedonia."

This subscription is not supported by the best authorities. In fact, it is manifestly false: the "there" of Tit 3:12 proves that, when he wrote this letter, Paul was not yet at Nicopolis, as the subscription alleges. Further, there is no warrant for assuming that Titus was a "bishop", much less the first bishop, of the whole island "church"!
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